Why The Global Warming Pause Was A Myth All Along

Why The Global Warming Pause Was A Myth All Along

The idea that global warming has “stopped” is a contrarian talking point that dates back to at least 2006. This framing was first created on blogs, then picked up by segments of the media – and it ultimately found entry into the scientific literature itself. There are now numerous peer-reviewed articles that address a presumed recent “pause” or “hiatus” in global warming, including the latest IPCC report.

So did global warming really pause, stop, or enter a hiatus? At least six academic studies have been published in 2015 that argue against the existence of a pause or hiatus, including three that were authored by me and colleagues James Risbey of CSIRO in Hobart, Tasmania, and Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University.

Our most recent paper has just been published in Nature’s open-access journal Scientific Reports and provides further evidence against the pause.

Pause Not Backed Up By Data

First, we analysed the research literature on global temperature variation over the recent period. This turns out to be crucial because research on the pause has addressed – and often conflated – several distinct questions: some asked whether there is a pause or hiatus in warming, others asked whether it slowed compared to the long-term trend and yet others have examined whether warming has lagged behind expectations derived from climate models.

These are all distinct questions and involve different data and different statistical hypotheses. Unnecessary confusion has resulted because they were frequently conflated under the blanket labels of pause or hiatus.

global warming 11 29New NOAA data released earlier this year confirmed there had been no pause. The author’s latest study used NASA’s GISTEMP data and obtained the same conclusions. NOAATo reduce the confusion, we were exclusively concerned with the first question: is there, or has there recently been, a pause or hiatus in warming? It is this question – and only this question – that we answer with a clear and unambiguous “no”.

No One Can Agree When The Pause Started

We considered 40 recent peer-reviewed articles on the so-called pause and inferred what the authors considered to be its onset year. There was a spread of about a decade (1993-2003) between the various papers. Thus, rather than being consensually defined, the pause appears to be a diffuse phenomenon whose presumed onset is anywhere during a ten-year window.

Given that the average presumed duration of the pause in the same set of articles is only 13.5 years, this is of concern: it is difficult to see how scientists could be talking about the same phenomenon when they talked about short trends that commenced up to a decade apart.

This concern was amplified in our third point: the pauses in the literature are by no means consistently extreme or unusual, when compared to all possible trends. If we take the past three decades, during which temperatures increased by 0.6℃, we would have been in a pause between 30% and 40% of the time using the definition in the literature.

In other words, academic research on the pause is typically not talking about an actual pause but, at best, about a fluctuation in warming rate that is towards the lower end of the various temperature trends over recent decades.

How The Pause Became A Meme

If there has been no pause, why then did the recent period attract so much research attention?

One reason is a matter of semantics. Many academic studies addressed not the absence of warming but a presumed discrepancy between climate models and observations. Those articles were scientifically valuable (we even wrote one ourselves), but we do not believe that those articles should have been framed in the language of a pause: the relationship between models (what was expected to happen) and observations (what actually happened) is a completely different issue from the question about whether or not global warming has paused.

A second reason is that the incessant challenge of climate science by highly vocal contrarians and Merchants of Doubt may have amplified scientists’ natural tendency to be reticent over reporting the most dramatic risks they are concerned about.

We explored the possible underlying mechanisms for this in an article earlier this year, which suggested climate denial had seeped into the scientific community. Scientists have unwittingly been influenced by a linguistic frame that originated outside the scientific community and by accepting the word pause they have subtly reframed their own research.

Research directed towards the pause has clearly yielded interesting insights into medium-term climate variability. My colleagues and I do not fault that research at all. Except that the research was not about a (non-existent) pause – it was about a routine fluctuation in warming rate. With 2015 being virtually certain to be another hottest year on record, this routine fluctuation has likely already come to an end.

About The AuthorThe Conversation

lewandowsky stephanStephan Lewandowsky, Chair of Cognitive Psychology, University of Bristol. His research examines people’s memory and decision making, with particular emphasis on how people respond to corrections of misinformation. He has published over 120 scholarly articles, chapters, and books, including a recent journal article on how people process information about the Iraq War, which revealed the important role of skepticism in people’s ability to update their memories. Another recent paper revealed that when shown the full data, people uniformly expect global warming to continue.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Related Book:

InnerSelf Market

Amazon

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

EVIDENCE

Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
White sea ice in blue water with the sun setting reflected in the water
Earth’s frozen areas are shrinking 33K square miles a year
by Texas A&M University
The Earth’s cryosphere is shrinking by 33,000 square miles (87,000 square kilometers) per year.
wind turbines
A controversial US book is feeding climate denial in Australia. Its central claim is true, yet irrelevant
by Ian Lowe, Emeritus Professor, School of Science, Griffith University
My heart sank last week to see conservative Australian commentator Alan Jones championing a contentious book about…
image
Reuters' Hot List of climate scientists is geographically skewed: why this matters
by Nina Hunter, Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of KwaZulu-Natal
The Reuters Hot List of “the world’s top climate scientists” is causing a buzz in the climate change community. Reuters…
A person holds a shell in their hand in blue water
Ancient shells hint past high CO2 levels could return
by Leslie Lee-Texas A&M
Using two methods to analyze tiny organisms found in sediment cores from the deep seafloor, researchers have estimated…
image
Matt Canavan suggested the cold snap means global warming isn't real. We bust this and 2 other climate myths
by Nerilie Abram, Professor; ARC Future Fellow; Chief Investigator for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes; Deputy Director for the Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science, Australian National University
Senator Matt Canavan sent many eyeballs rolling yesterday when he tweeted photos of snowy scenes in regional New South…
Ecosystem sentinels sound alarm for the oceans
by Tim Radford
Sea birds are known as ecosystem sentinels, warning of marine loss. As their numbers fall, so could the riches of the…
Why Sea Otters Are Climate Warriors
Why Sea Otters Are Climate Warriors
by Zak Smith
In addition to being one of the cutest animals on the planet, sea otters help maintain healthy, carbon-absorbing kelp…

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

green energy2 3
Four Green Hydrogen Opportunities for the Midwest
by Christian Tae
To avert a climate crisis, the Midwest, like the rest of the country, will need to fully decarbonize its economy by…
ug83qrfw
Major Barrier to Demand Response Needs to End
by John Moore, On Earth
If federal regulators do the right thing, electricity customers across the Midwest may soon be able to earn money while…
trees to plant for climate2
Plant These Trees To Improve City Life
by Mike Williams-Rice
A new study establishes live oaks and American sycamores as champions among 17 “super trees” that will help make cities…
north sea sea bed
Why We Must Understand Seabed Geology To Harness The Winds
by Natasha Barlow, Associate Professor of Quaternary Environmental Change, University of Leeds
For any country blessed with easy access to the shallow and windy North Sea, offshore wind will be key to meeting net…
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.